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We reported yesterday about Amazon's decision to offer a lower price on Prime membership to people who are on federal assistance - a way of appealing to a segment of the population that traditionally has shopped at Walmart.

MNB reader Carla A. Girten wrote:

I read about this last night on a social media link and then scanned the comments.  There were several people who were clearly upset that Amazon would discount the membership for lower income shoppers.  The feeling was why should we regular full-price users “subsidize” this, and why aren’t we getting the discounts for being loyal, high volume shoppers.  These are people who, in this highly politicized climate, are resentful of their tax dollars going towards SNAP and other welfare programs and see this as another give-away.  One actually said they would be cancelling their Prime membership.  Another commented that if someone could not afford to buy food and other necessities, why were they shopping on Amazon anyway, and how did they have the connected devices to even accomplish it. Although this was not my thought when I read it, I understand the logic because I hear it from friends and co-workers. Maybe I am naïve to think of the benefit for people who couldn’t get to the store, or who lived in food deserts, etc. and how they would be able to buy necessities they otherwise couldn’t get. Just wanted to put another side out there.

I do think that one of the real benefits of this new Amazon discount is that it does address the issue of food deserts ... I don't think that this is naïve at all. Now, it also is good for Amazon, but that's okay. Building stores in food deserts isn't all about altruism, either.

While I agree that the resentment might be felt by some folks, and understand the line of thought, I profoundly disagree with it. I don't feel like I'm subsidizing benefits for people less fortunate than I, though I'd be okay with that if I were; it isn't like Amazon is raising my fees to pay to give Prime benefits to people on assistance.

If some folks want to give up their Amazon Prime memberships because of this, let them. I can't imagine it will be a very big group. I think most people will have a greater generosity of spirit.

We also reported the other day about the Seattle City Council decision to impose a tax on sugared beverages, prompting one MNB reader to write:

It is interesting that the Seattle City Council says one of the reasons for the soda tax is to "cut down on the consumption of sugary drinks" because of course it makes them more expensive.  The same city council insists that raising the minimum wage more than 50% will have no adverse impact on jobs.

MNB reader Peter Talbott wrote:

A Starbucks grande caramel Frappucino is 420 calories, with 9 grams of saturated fat and 66 grams of sugar.  I wonder how Seattle missed that?

I don't.

I wrote yesterday about Apple's introduction of the new Home Pod, designed to compete with Amazon's Echo ... while I see the attraction (largely, I think, because I am such an Apple guy), I'm not sure it, as described, could supplant my devotion to the Echo/Alexa system.

MNB reader Jeff Gartner wrote:

Kevin, I think Apple is positioning the Home Pod more against Sonos (and similar speaker systems) than it is against the Echo or Google Home, emphasizing both its sound quality for music listening and with more intelligence.

Sonos produces okay sound quality, but its real appeal is how easy it is to use. The Home Pod seems to be positioned as also very easy to use but more automatically than relying on your iPhone's Sonos app (such as with determining the best audio in a particular room or with other speakers in the same room). 
From what I read in online tech reviews, the Home Pod seems to be a much superior speaker to the Echo, but perhaps its real Amazon competition is the much cheaper Echo Dot connected to a better speaker. 

Personally, I'm just glad Apple finally updated its iMacs so I can rely on my still good but 5-year old Mac Air (often connected to a bigger monitor) just for travel.

I hadn't thought about it that way, but I have to say that I have a Sonos system in my office, and just love it. Hard to imagine I'd want to replace it.

I loved this email from MNB reader Gary Loehr about the Home Pod-Echo conflict:

Oh no, Apple competing with Amazon…Your girlfriend just met your wife.  Apple, sexy, sleek, stylish, exciting with maybe a touch of danger.  But Amazon knows you, understands you, really gets you in a way that Apple may never match.  Two parallel universes, each calling out to you, each with it’s own allure.  A bit like matter and anti-matter colliding.

Oh. no. I thought I was thinking about a consumer choice ... not in the middle of a existential mid-life crisis point.

Finally, I got this email from MNB reader Tom Redwine referencing a "worth reading" piece that came from a New York Times column by Tom Friedman:

The quote regarding self-driving cars in the Friedman article reminded me of something I read in Barron's last week, in regards to unintended consequences:

"Waiting lists for organ donations will grow longer, as car accidents, especially fatal ones, become rarer."

Wow. Did not see that coming.

Me neither. Yikes.
KC's View: